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42nd Street (1933)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 1



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 7,381

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Movie Info

The quintessential "backstage" musical, 42nd Street traces the history of a Broadway musical comedy, from casting call to opening night. Warner Baxter plays famed director Julian Marsh, who despite failing health is determined to stage one last great production, "Pretty Lady." Others involved include "Pretty Lady" star Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels); Dorothy's "sugar daddy" (Guy Kibbee), who finances the show; her true love Pat (George Brent); leading man Billy Lawlor (Dick Powell); and


Musical & Performing Arts

James Seymour, Rian James

Mar 21, 2006

MGM Home Entertainment

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All Critics (22) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (1) | DVD (10)

This 1933 film is the best known of the Warner Brothers Depression-era musicals, though it doesn't compare in dash and extravagance to later entries in the cycle.

October 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The liveliest and one of the most tuneful screen musical comedies that has come out of Hollywood.

August 8, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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Berkeley choreographs chorines and camera with mischievous dexterity.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The careful building of the eye-level proscenium that's exploded by swooping cinematic music

September 2, 2012 Full Review Source: CinePassion

A deliciously funny musical; racy and light years ahead of its time.

June 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Clothes on Film
Clothes on Film

Of Golden Age musicals, 42nd Street is about as close to the archetype as they come.

April 8, 2006 Full Review Source:

...the film that practically invented every backstage musical clich we know today...remains a remarkable achievement for a film over seven decades old.

March 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

42nd Street may not be the best backstage musical ever made, but it's certainly the most enjoyable and durable in appeal--find out why.

August 26, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

The strength of a musical is its songs, and this film had a mixed bag.

February 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

One can't say enough good things about what Busby Berkeley did for the musical.

January 11, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The result is an absolute spectacular. Not to be missed.

April 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Busby Berkeley's astonishing choreography is singularly cinematic and still astonishing.

April 11, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

[Features] great Busby Berkeley production numbers.

March 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Busby Berkeley choreography; Powell and Keeler plus all-star supporting cast. A Warner Bros. clasic musical, though campy by today's standards.

August 22, 2002
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

The classic backstage musical, still great

August 21, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

42nd Street (1933) is the classic, fast-paced, backstage movie musical - a refreshing film that changed the film musical forever and saved Warner Bros. studios from bankruptcy

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films
Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films

The real star, though, is the master of kaleidoscopic imagery, Busby Berkeley.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for 42nd Street

Released the same year as "Gold Diggers of 1933", "42nd Street" also features many of the same cast (Ginger Rogers, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler) and the same choreographer (Busby Berkeley, famous for his overhead shots of geometrically arranged chorus dancers). The plot too, is sort of similar. In it, we see the trials and tribulations of producing a broadway musical, from funding and casting to the opening night, and all the hair-pulling frustration that comes with it. Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) is the greener than green wannabe actress who shows up for the audition and is tricked into walking in on Billy's (Dick Powell) dressing room (also, Billy plays what is called "the juvenile lead", whatever that is). While it's a dirty trick, it winds up paying off for Peggy as she soon makes friends with Billy and the rest of the stars of the production. The closing number is pretty great, and the rest of the movie is too, with it's self-deprecating humor and depression era sensibilities. It's funny, but Ruby Keeler has the mannerisms of someone's grandma, but you gotta figure even grandmas were young once upon a time, back in the days when grandpas got excited at a peak at a pretty girl's knee.
May 16, 2012
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Spicey for the Depression era 30's, this gorgeously made musical is like none other ever performed. Use of forward thinking cinematography, an uncensored storyline, and musical numbers that inspire choreographers to this day, made this a very unique musical among the stereotyped genre. An amazing performance by the docile and demure Ruby Keeler, whose singing is so-so, but dancing is off the charts amazing. A web of romantic entanglements and decidely backwards Broadway politics leads to comedy. love, and pure entertainment.
February 12, 2011

Super Reviewer

A lot of fun with an amazing sequence at the end by Mr. Busby Berkeley.
This is to legs as Death Proof is to feet.
February 9, 2011

Super Reviewer

This movie is just the same as all the other "let's put on a musical" musical movies of the 30s, so I found it predictable, but there are some good actors.
October 17, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. Julian Marsh: Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!
    – Submitted by Dutch E (13 months ago)
    1. Julian Marsh: Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!
    – Submitted by Tyler C (3 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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